Encouraging Promises; A Promise to Zerubbabel.
B. C. 520.
20 And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, 21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; 22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.
After Haggai’s sermon ad populum—to the people, here follows one, the same day, ad magistratum—to the magistrates, a word directed particularly to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, who was a leading active man in this good work which the people now set about, and therefore he shall have some particular marks put upon him (v. 21): Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, speak to him by himself. He has thoughts in his head far above those of the common people, as wise princes are wont to have, who move in a higher and larger sphere than others. The people of the land are in care about their corn-fields and vineyards; God has assured them that they shall prosper, and we hope that will make them easy; but Zerubbabel is concerned about the community and its interests, about the neighbouring nations, and the revolutions of their governments, and what will become of the few and feeble Jews in those changes and convulsions, and how such a poor prince as he is should be able to keep his ground and serve his country. “Go to him,” says God, “and tell him it shall be well with him and his remnant, and let that make him easy.”
I. Let him expect to hear of great commotions in the nations of the earth, and let them not be a surprise to him; behold, he is told of them before (v. 21, 22): I will shake the heavens and the earth. This he had said before (v. 6, 7), and now says it again to Zerubbabel; let him expect shaking times, universal concussions. The world is like the sea, like the wheel, always in motion, but sometimes in a special manner turbulent. But, Blessed be God, if the earth be shaken, it is to shake the wicked out of it, Job xxxviii. 13. In the apocalyptic visions earthquakes bode no ill to the church. Here the heavens and the earth are shaken, that proud oppressors may be broken and brought down: I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms. The Chaldean monarchy, which had been the throne of kingdoms a great while, was already overthrown; and the powers that are, and are yet to come, shall in like manner be overthrown; their day will come to fall.
1. Though they be ever so powerful, yet the strength of their kingdoms shall be destroyed. They trust in chariots and horses (Ps. xx. 7), but their chariots shall be overthrown, and those that ride in them, so that they shall not be able to attack the people of God, whom they persecute, not to escape the judgments of God, which persecute them.
2. Though there appear none likely to be the instruments of their destruction, yet God will bring it about, for they shall be brought down every one by the sword of his brother. This reads the doom of all the enemies of God’s church, that will not repent to give him glory; it seems likewise designed as a promise of Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness, his overthrow of Satan’s throne, that throne of kingdoms, the throne of the god of this world, the taking from him all the armour wherein he trusted and dividing the spoil. And all opposing rule, principality, and power, shall be put down, that the kingdom may be delivered up to God, even the Father.
II. Let him depend upon it that he shall be safe under the divine protection in the midst of all these commotions, v. 23. Zerubbabel was active to build God a house, and therefore God makes the same promise to him as he did to David on the like occasion–that he would build him a house, and establish it, even in that day when heaven and earth are shaken. This promise refers to this good man himself and to his family. He honoured God, and God would honour him. His successors likewise in the government of Judah might take encouragement from it; though their authority was very precarious as to men, yet God would confirm it, and this would contribute to the stability of the people over whom God had set them. But this promise has special reference to Christ, who lineally descended from Zerubbabel, and is the sole builder of the gospel-temple.
1. Zerubbabel is here owned as God’s servant, and it is an honourable mention that is hereby made of him, as Moses and David my servants. When God destroys his enemies he will prefer his servants. Our Lord Jesus is his Father’s servant in the work of redemption, but faithful as a Son, Isa. xlii. 1.
2. He is owned as God’s elect: I have chosen thee to this office; and whom God makes choice of he will make use of. Our Lord Jesus is chosen of God, 1 Pet. ii. 4. And he is the head of the chosen remnant; in him they are chosen.
3. It is promised that, being chosen, God will make him as a signet. Jeconiah had been as the signet on God’s right hand, but was plucked thence (Jer. xxii. 24); and now Zerubbabel is substituted in the room of him. He shall be near and dear to God, precious in his sight, and honourable, and his family shall continue till the Messiah spring out of it, who is the signet on God’s right hand. This intimates,
(1.) The delight the Father has in him. In him he once and again declared himself to be well pleased. He is set as a seal upon his heart, a seal upon his arm, is brought near unto him (Dan. vii. 13), is hidden in the shadow of his hand, Isa. xlix. 2.
(2.) The dominion the Father has entrusted him with. Princes sign their edicts, grants, and commissions, with their signet-rings, Esth. iii. 10. Our Lord Jesus is the signet on God’s right hand, for all power is given to him and derived from him. By him the great charter of the gospel is signed and ratified, and it is in him that all the promises of God are yea and amen.
– Matthew Henry Commentary